updated 4/18/2005 9:42:05 AM ET 2005-04-18T13:42:05

After decades of gathering dust on library shelves, the April 19, 1965 issue of Electronics magazine has suddenly become a very hot commodity.  And it's not because vacuum tubes are making a comeback.

In that issue, future Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore declared the integrated circuit was the future of the electronics and predicted the rate of improvement for the semiconductor industry.  The 40th anniversary of what was later coined "Moore's Law" is Tuesday.

Problem is, neither Moore — nor anyone else currently at Intel — saved an original copy of the magazine.  They have photocopies, but they want the real thing.  Earlier this week, Intel offered a $10,000 bounty for a mint-condition copy.

A short time later, a bound volume of Electronics containing the issue disappeared from the University of Illinois' engineering library.  "This thing wasn't touched in years," said Mary Schlembach, assistant engineering librarian at the school in central Illinois.

So far, there are no clues as to who might have pilfered the magazine.  The university's other copy has since been moved to its rare book collection where it will be kept under lock and key, she said.  The theft was first reported by the tech news Web site CNET.

Other libraries have moved to protect their copies.  The University of California, Los Angeles, placed its single copy on "permanent reserve," which means identification is required even before it's taken to the photocopier.  UCLA also has two copies on microfilm.  "It had not circulated in 20 years," said Anita Colby, head of collection development at the campus' science and engineering library.

Intel, in its original posting on the auction site eBay, said it wasn't interested in library copies unless the institutions themselves were offering it.  Intel, which has since pulled its request, says it's in discussions with people who claim to have copies.

"Our posting made it clear that we would not buy library or museum copies unless they sell them directly," Intel spokesman Robert Manetta said in an e-mail.  "We're sure the people we're talking to aren't involved in what the article describes since they're outside of the U.S."

Schlembach said the stolen copy had been bound with other issues of Electronics.  If the April 19 issue were to be separated from the volume, it would hardly be in mint condition.  "You're going to have an issue that's all loose sheets of paper," she said.  "There's nothing to prevent you from regluing it, but it wouldn't be in pristine shape."

In the article, Moore predicted the number of transistors and other components crammed on an integrated circuit would double every year, enabling an era of inexpensive microelectronics.  Moore subsequently updated the rate of doubling to every two years.

Moore, now 76, said he had no idea then that his article would remain a hot topic four decades after publication.  "Electronics was one of the trade magazines that you read and throw away," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.  "It wasn't an archival journal."

The magazine no longer exists in its current form. McGraw-Hill sold it to VNU in 1988 and it was sold to Penton Publishing the following year.  In 1995, the magazine became a column in Penton's IndustryWeek magazine, said McGraw-Hill spokesman Gregory Roth.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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